Opening Doors for Women in IRS

PMI VectorLink Increases Women’s Participation in IRS by Removing Barriers

Female participants during a practical training session. Photo by Daniel Eninu.

Malaria remains the leading cause of morbidity in Uganda, accounting for 4% of all estimated malaria cases in 2017, according to the World Malaria Report 2018[1]. To reduce the burden of malaria in Uganda, the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink Project implements indoor residual spraying (IRS) to kill the mosquitoes that transmit the disease. PMI VectorLink works with Uganda’s Ministry of Health in planning and implementing IRS in 15 districts, strengthening the country’s capacity to manage IRS.

Because an important part of increasing capacity is ensuring the participation of women in IRS, the project encouraged women who were already working in the district health offices and the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) to attend the training.

“Our aim is to strengthen the capacity of districts in all the malaria high-burden districts in Uganda so that they are able to plan and implement quality IRS and reduce malaria in their districts as one of core responsibilities. This is the responsibility of each person. I really appreciate the fact that the project has taken steps to increase female participation in IRS,” said Dr. Jimmy Opigo, Program Manager for NMCP Uganda. He added that the only way to defeat malaria is to involve every member of society affected by malaria, and women play a critical role in these efforts.

In the past, women’s participation in IRS has been significantly lower than that of men due partly to gender-based barriers that can constrain women’s participation. Mothers of young children can find it difficult to attend required trainings to qualify for IRS jobs. To increase women’s participation in IRS, and more specifically, to build a cadre of women in supervisory roles, the project provided meals and accommodations during trainings for participants and their babysitters. This allow for the full participation of mothers of young children during a recent five-day “boot camp” training held December 3-7, 2018. Nineteen women were trained on the implementation of IRS, supervision and gender inclusion, a 12 percent increase from last year.

Beatrice Apong, Health Inspector for Lira District, attended the training with her three-month-old baby. “I was really honored to be part of the IRS boot camp training,” she said. “I am grateful to the project for the support accorded to my baby helper which gave me ample time to be part of the training.” She added that she will work to ensure that more women are recruited and participate actively in IRS as a member of the district health team.

[1]World Health Organization. (2018). World Malaria Report 2018. World Health Organization.